Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Joyce Sponsors Legislation to Preserve Borderland State Park
Bill would keep Borderland fees in Easton park

Mansfield —

The money visitors spend to park their cars at Borderland State Park could be used to make visits to the park more enjoyable.

Under a proposed state Senate bill, the parking revenue would be returned to Borderland for much needed improvements to the land and century-old mansion.

The original intent of the $2 fee was to maintain Borderland. But the $300,000 collected since 2010 has vanished into the state’s general fund.

Meanwhile, the Borderland mansion falls into disrepair and ranger staff has been reduced to a skeleton crew.

“Unfortunately, the park is falling apart,” Easton historical commission Chairman Melanie Deware told selectmen last week.

Flanking the towns of Easton and Sharon, Borderland was created in the early 1900s by artist Blanche Ames and her botanist husband Oakes Ames.

The state purchased the three-story stone mansionand land in 1971 and converted it into a park.

The estate remains one of the most historically significant parcels of publicly owned land in the state. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contains acres of walking and horseback riding trails and fishing and canoeing.

Sponsored by state Sen. Brian Joyce, D-Milton, the legislation would preserve the park and the historical artifacts and artwork in the mansion by funneling money directly into a new Borderland State Park Trust Fund.

The bill is supported by Easton selectmen, the Easton historical commission and the Borderland Advisory Council.

“We must help preserve this historical gem. Its ponds, fields, stone walls, and pathways reflect a long history of agricultural and industrial use. Without constant maintenance, the fields would return to forests and the ponds would become marshes and swamps,” Joyce testified before a Committee on Joint Revenue statehouse hearing on March 8. “This bill would give back, and protecting the Commonwealth’s rich history.”

Selectmen Chairman Colleen Corona said Joyce cited, as a precedent for the bill, Blue Hills where cell tower fees have been used to maintain the park’s museum.

In a letter to selectmen, John Ventresco, vice-chairman of the Easton historical commission, said it was appropriate the money generated through parking fees stay at Borderland State Park..

“There is a great financial need not only to maintain the park’s present condition but to preserve and prevent further deterioration of this unique and irreplaceable building and its land. Many of the problems that exist today are longstanding and have worsened by the lack of action, prevented by the deficiency of fund,” he said.

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